Fast and Cheap COVID19 Testing without PCR


Researchers at University of Washington have developed a fast and cheap test for COVID19 detection.

The test is a combination of the speed of OTC antigen tests and the accuracy of PCR tests; that healthcare set-ups process. Moreover, the COVID19 harmony test detects genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus just like the PCR test. However, this test does not take several hours in comparison to conventional PCR tests. The Harmony kit can give you results in less than twenty minutes for some samples and has the same accuracy rate.

Barry Lutz, a UW associate professor of bioengineering and investigator with the Brotman Baty Institute for Precision Medicine said,

“We designed the test to be low-cost and simple enough that it could be used anywhere. We hope that the low cost will make high-performance testing more accessible locally and around the world.

Easy-to-Use COVID19 Testing Kit

Harmony is a simple and easy-to-use testing kit. Furthermore, the test uses a method like “PCRs” for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome. Designed by Lutz’s group, a small, low-cost detector takes the nasal swab sample.

A smartphone can operate and read the result of the test. In addition, the detector is efficient enough to handle four samples in one-go. Furthermore, the size is very convenient and can fit into the glove compartment of the car.

Limitations and Concerns

One of the main concerns throughout the pandemic was the accuracy of the COVID-19 tests. Most of the antigen kits for the detection of COVID-19 only detect pieces of the protein the virus creates. They do not detect the genetic material and are 80-85% accurate. However, the accuracy will drop due to the Omicron variant. Since it has higher number of mutations not found in other strains.

A key FDA benchmark is that PCR tests are 95% accurate but require costly equipment and are time consuming.


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